There are lots of ways for us to help our friends, neighbors, and communities during the difficult challenges that for many have already begun and will likely persist for the next several weeks, or even months. In our Getting Through COVID-19, Together series, we will look at specific ways to do just that.
(If you would like to contribute to this series, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us on Facebook.)
Stop Calling it the “Chinese Virus”
COVID-19. Coronavirus. SARS-CoV-2. Even just “the virus”. Any of those names are great ways to refer to the virus currently placing the world in a state of pandemic. They are accurate. They are clear. They are responsible.
On the other hand, calling it anything along the lines of the “Chinese virus” – as President Trump has been fond of doing – is less accurate and certainly not responsible. And the only thing it really makes clear is that you are insensitive to the feelings and concerns of others; that you value edginess over sensitivity.
The last thing the world needs right now is more division, especially not the vile division of racial and ethnic animosity. Calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” only deepens the already tragic fault lines between the West and China.
Since the disease truly became a global pandemic, there have been multiple instances (mainly in America) of Asian-Americans facing hostility, discrimination, and even violence. The website Stop AAPI Hate has recorded over 150 such incidents. Asian-Americans have been yelled at, spit on, and sprayed with cleaner, and avoided.
You cannot convince me that the president calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” hasn’t encouraged this kind of behavior. It has, it absolutely has. And anyone else who continues to call it this is as well.
This is probably the simplest way we can all heal each other through this pandemic yet: all you have to do is not call it the “Chinese virus”. You have a choice between calling the disease any of many inoffensive, not-racially charged names or an offensive, racially charged name.
Why on earth would a decent person pick the latter?